The European Commission has confirmed that it is closely following developments regarding alleged United Arab Emirates (UAE) spy campaigns in Europe.
Revealed last month by numerous publications throughout the European Union, journalists have claimed that the UAE had hired a Swiss firm to smear their Qatari-linked political opponents on the continent.
Abu Dhabi reportedly hired the firm to spy on individuals and organisations within numerous EU countries.
The UAE project is then said to have made attempts to link targets to extremist groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in an attempt to discredit them.
“Even in situations where their claims had validity, they wanted nobody to know that the UAE was behind the campaign,” Der Spiegel wrote regarding the investigation.
The EC’s chief foreign policy representative Josep Borrell acknowledged reporting into the disinformation campaign published last month, adding that he was following “the matter in close coordination with the Member States”.
Coordinated by the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC) journalism group, the investigation claims that the UAE hired a Swiss firm to link pro-Qatari individuals and groups in Europe to Islamic extremism.
Regarding the findings, Borrell said that he expected relevant authorities at the national level would address the matter “in substance”.
“Foreign information manipulation and interference (FIMI) remains a considerable threat to the European societies and the High Representative,” he stated.
Borrell added that an “EU toolbox” was now in development “to address and counter FIMI and impose costs on the perpetrators”.
Three Bulgarian nationals suspected of being part of a Russian spy ring have been arrested and charged in the UK following a major national security probe. https://t.co/AQDuhkaD7N
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 16, 2023
The statement by the foreign affairs bigwig was made in response to a priority question from a European Parliament representative over the alleged spy scandal.
Dutch MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld asked the EC whether it was now seeking answers regarding the apparent scandal, accusing those behind the alleged spy project of helping to further discredit Islam in Europe.
“Organisations, politicians and activists in 18 European countries were targeted and discredited by wrongly connecting them to a radical Islamist network,” she claimed.
“This smear campaign has damaged their reputations and contributed to public distrust of Muslims and Islam.”
A German military officer arrested for allegedly spying for Russia is said to have done so out of “frustration”, German media outlets have reported. https://t.co/T5Wis7taYx
— Brussels Signal (@brusselssignal) August 10, 2023